Trees older than our country are currently being logged again in the Scott and Salmon Watersheds of the Klamath National Forest. Following a two-year lull in which environmentalists had successfully stopped old-growth logging in the Klamath, and in which the Forest Service had begun to focus less-controversial small diameter thinning projects, ancient forests are once again being logged at the 2,640-acre Jack Timber Sale.
"The Forest Service is not only ignoring scientist that say old-grwoth logging must stop in the Klamath River to save salmon, but they are cutting old growth next to the Scott and Salmon Rivers and on Russian Wilderness trailheads and are saying they cutting are small trees." said Regina Chichizola with the Klamath Forest Aliance.
Following the massive salmon die-off in the Klamath in 2002 due to reduced river flows and high water temperatures, resistance to Forest Service old-growth logging in critical habitat for salmon has greatly increased. In May of 2003 tree-sitters occupied three old-growth trees near the Salmon River that were part of the Glassups timber sale. Also in May of 2003, litigation was filed challenging the Salmon River old-growth logging proposed in the Knob timber sale. In October of 2004 conservation organizations obtained a court order halting illegal old-growth logging of the Beaver Creek tributary of the Klamath River.
"It is unfortunate that at the same time that the Forest Service is publicly touting their desire to create healthy forests by thinning flammable small trees and brush, they are also logging fire-resistant old-growth in sensitive watersheds," said George Sexton, Conservation Director for the Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center. "It is a vicious-circle in which the Forest Service removes the old-growth forests and replaces them with flammable brush fields and tree plantations."
The Jack old-growth timber sale was enjoined by a federal court in 1999 because the Forest Service had refused to look for at-risk species included in the agency's "survey and manage" program and had violated the Aquatic Conservation Strategy of the Northwest Forest Plan. Under the Bush Administration, the Forest Service has eliminated the survey and manage program and severely weakened the Aquatic Conservation Strategy so-as to allow for more old-growth timber sales like Jack. Activist in the field have also witnessed the Forest Serivce making large pine and cedar days before units are cut and yarding next to the damaged Scott River in the snow.